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The no. 1 day tour in Killarney... for 250 years!

The no. 1 day tour in Killarney… for 250 years!

Ross Castle Killarney

Ross Castle was built in the 15th Century and was the seat of the O’Donoghue Mor. During the second Desmond Rebellion which led to the Plantation of Munster in the 1580s, the castle changed hands and was taken over by the McCarthy Mors.

To facilitate the Plantation of Munster, the British Government commissioned a survey of the area. This huge task was entrusted to a gentleman named Sir Valentine Browne. Browne was given 6500 acres of land in Kerry and also some land near the town of Hospital in Co. Limerick. Browne also bought the estates of the McCarthy family which included Ross Castle and the Lakes of Killarney. Donald McCarthy, from whom Browne bought the estate died without a male heir and is buried in Muckross Abbey.

During the 11 years war, Ross Castle was under the command of Lord Muskerry. Muskerry was defending the rights of the Gaelic Nobility and in 1652 the castle was attacked by Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army. A man named Edmund Ludlow was Cromwell’s second in command in Ireland and led the attack on the castle.

Ludlow marched on Ross Castle with 4000 foot soldiers and 200 horses. The castle withstood the attack due to it’s position on the Northern point of Ross Island. The Southern part of Ross Island consisted of 150 acres of land for grazing sheep, cattle and deer as well as the lakes for fish and water. Muskerry was set up to endure a siege for many months. As the weeks went on, Ludlow heard a local prophecy regarding Ross Castle: “Ross may all assault disdain till on Lough Lein strange ship shall sail.”

Ludlow is said to have sailed a warship up the river Laune (Lough Lein’s connection to the sea). The warship approached the castle at night and it is said that the Muskerry surrendered the following morning when he saw the ship in the bay. There were no defences in place to defend the castle from an attack from the lake. Ross Castle was one of the last strongholds in Ireland to succumb to Cromwell’s Parliamentarian forces.

The Browne family were allowed to keep all of their lands after this as they could show that their heir was too young to have taken part in the rebellion. In 1688 a fortified house was added to the castle but the Browne family were exiled that year due to their allegiance to King James II during the “Glorious Revolution”. The castle became a garrison shortly afterwards and remained so until the early 19th century. The last Governer of Ross Castle was Lieutenant General Sir Henry Johnson who was Governer from 1801 – 1835. Johnson had commanded one of the battalions of light infantry in the American Revolutionary Campaign under Lord Cornwallis 1776 – 1778.

There is a legend that The Chieftan O’Donoghue leaped from the top window of the castle on his white horse and disappeared under the water. On the 1st of May every 7 years O’Donoghue rises from the lake on his horse and circles the lake. Anyone to catch a glimpse of him is to be assured of good fortune for the rest of their days.

What people have to say…

“We did our trip backwards and started with the boat trip. The scenery was stunning and our boat driver was great! He highlighted a few spots on our trip and had us stop to feed the begging pheasant! Ha! We then landed at Lord Brandon’s cottage and took a pony and trap through the Gap of Dunloe. Many people attempted to walk or bike the Gap, but I can’t imagine attempting that! The roads are skinny and filled with horse and traps. The path is also very steep and winds around up the mountain path! Our trap driver pointed out the area of the Gap where they filmed the Irish Spring commercials! Just beautiful!”
Becca, Bloomington, Minnesota

RSDL O’Donoghue Limited t/a Killarney Boat Tours,
Lahard, Beaufort, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland • Tel: +353 87 261 7967
Email: info@killarneyboattours.com